Is Google Politically Biasing Search Results?

Jan 28, 2009 • 3:13 am | comments (6) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine
 

Discovery, a moderator at Search Engine Watch Forums asks if Google is using their political bias to show pro Obama search results versus negative Bush search results. Let me go on record here and say, I do not think Google is doing this, but many people do, this is why I am covering it.

His argument starts by saying that we know Google and their CEO are major supporters of Obama. This is no secret and we know we were concerned that this support would show a bias in Google. That being said, Discover shows two search results, but for misspellings of each President's name.

First, a search result for Barack Aboma, clearly misspelling the last name. Here are the positive or neutral results for this search term in Google. Plus they have a spelling correction at the top:

Googling Barack Aboma

Second, a search result for George Busch, misspelling the last name as well. Here are negative results for this search term in Google. Plus it is missing a spelling suggestion:

Googling George Busch

Discovery wonders why Bush has such negative results while Obama has such positive results? Well, I think the clear answer is that many people in the US love Obama, while many people really dislike Bush. The search results show it, and so do the polls. But is there more going on?

Discovery puts it this way:

In history most powerful entities in a country have always been the media outlets. If you control the media or the main point of communications with the public you have a great deal of power. You can control mass opinion and behavior. If Google is the media source of the new age, can tinkering like this be their downfall?

I'll leave it at that and let the discussion continue at Search Engine Watch Forums.

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Comments:

Aaranged

01/28/2009 09:10 pm

Ah, conspiracy theories and search engine rankings ... delicious. Unfortunately, about a minute of SEO research can clear this up. Google tries to suggest likely alternatives to misspellings when they appear frequently enough in relation to an associated term. How common are the test terms? Conduct a phrase-delimited query for each of them. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22george+busch%22 - 48.4K results http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22barack+aboma%22 - 139M results Then see how many of those "busch" pages don't contain "bush", and how many "aboma" pages don't contain "obama": http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22george+busch%22+-bush - 14.5K (30% don't) http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22barack+aboma%22+-obama - 8 (< .00001%, or something like that, don't) Google, as usual when successful, is giving the people (surfers) what they want.

Aaranged

01/28/2009 09:13 pm

My "less than" symbol broke my comment. The comment following the last query should read "8 (less than .0001%, or something like that)"

Nick Roshon

01/28/2009 09:13 pm

Perhaps this is a poorly chosen example too: its a well known fact G W Bush was an alcoholic, and Busch is a type of beer, so the second misspelling isn't necessarily an "accident" as much as a pun or play on words.

Barry Schwartz

01/28/2009 09:32 pm

Perhaps., but interesting enough, hot off the press today http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a7hedup8R3UE

Rob Abdul

01/29/2009 01:01 pm

I agree with Aaranged. Nice to see your working out, top marks for that. Also I like your blog seoskeptic.com. Neat name! We the people inspire Google's algorithm to evolve by the way we search.

glenn

01/29/2009 09:20 pm

I think this would be good to recheck in a year or so...After Obama has more time in office...then I'm sure there will be more sites and comments weather good or bad

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